Latest | Recent Articles | Multimedia Page | TV | Search | Blog

Email this article | Print this article | Link to this Article


June 15, 2001

"If a cease-fire does indeed take hold, then all the better... If Arafat rejects the document or professes to accept it, but does not fulfill his part of the bargain, Israel will win more points in the court of world opinion and a more conducive political backdrop will be created for a military response to Palestinian violence."

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 6/15: The Bulldozer (Ariel Sharon) hasn't really changed. He's just preparing to get his way, readying everyone and everything to do his thing, once again about to change the whole landscape of the Middle East. He has done so before of course. Indeed, Ariel Sharon is among the small number of men who have brought about today's dire situation in the region, possibly leading to the "abyss" (reluctantly we quote Secretary of State Powell on this one).

What has changed is that The Bulldozer is now the Prime Minister of Israel, making him head of the Army, the Intelligence Services, the Foreign Office, and the various means of "hasbara" (the peculiar Hebrew word for "propaganda"). And in this age of the Internet and instant TV preparing for to use overwhelming and brutal military force is best accomplished through a sophisticated strategy of deception and timing, in addition to having a cut-throat war criminal-type personality with decades of blood on his record in charge.

The excellent Israeli newspaper "Ha'aretz" often publishes exceptionally interesting and insightful information, as with Friday's article "Tenet's Tenets", a fairly detailed review and analysis of what happened this week with the CIA Chief George Tenets "diplomacy". But it always needs to be remembered that "Ha'aretz" usually has often times very subtle Zionist twists to its stories -- after all it is in a way the New York Times of Israel.

P.S. If you are in England make sure to watch the "Panorama" program on Sunday -- an expose about "The Bulldozer" and the many charges of his war criminal past.


By Uzi Benziman
[Ha'aretz, Friday, 15 June]:

Tenet lays it on the table

The Tuesday morning meeting of the "kitchen cabinet" started 20 minutes late - at 8:20 instead of 8 o'clock. This was highly uncharacteristic of the prime minister, who normally makes a virtue of promptness. By 9 A.M., the meeting was already over. Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Foreign Minister Shimon Peres was abroad) had decided to quickly relay their acceptance of CIA Director George Tenet's cease-fire plan, figuring that, by doing so, they could corner Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and force him into having to choose one of two options: rejecting the plan or adopting it as presented.

Sharon feared that if he made his acceptance of the Tenet initiative contingent upon further changes, he'd be opening the door for the Palestinian leader to take similar steps and announce his ostensible acceptance of the plan while effectively eviscerating its directives of any power by insisting on a number of preconditions. Therefore, Sharon hastened to conclude the meeting and to get the word out in all the media that Israel accepts the American document.

The document under consideration was the second incarnation of the cease-fire plan presented by Tenet to the two parties. When the first draft was presented last Friday, it immediately became a source of litigiousness between Israel and the PA (via the American mediator). In consultations held at the Defense Ministry and with the prime minister, Israeli officials decided to request certain amendments designed to ensure mutual fulfillment of the cease-fire conditions, and to hone the document's wording concerning Israel's expectations about the arrest of terrorist leaders (the Tenet document spoke of "known" terrorists and Israel wished to expand on this definition), among other things. There was also some criticism of the wording regarding the connection between the timetable for the fulfillment of the obligations undertaken by the Palestinian side and those that apply to Israel. Tenet was informed of these objections and he relayed them to Arafat.

In Jerusalem, they presumed that Tenet would come back with a new version that would reflect changes made by the Americans after taking into account, as much as possible, the reservations of both sides, and that this second version would then be subject to further clarifications. Thus, the position that Tenet presented on Monday caused a certain amount of surprise: He laid the plan on the table and essentially told both sides, "Take it or leave it; I do not intend to conduct any further negotiations on this matter."

Officially, the paper was presented to the two delegations at a meeting held at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday evening. However, Sharon had already been informed of its main points that morning and, after brief consideration, concluded that he was better off accepting it without trying to insert any more changes. This same stance was expressed at a meeting convened by the defense minister on Monday afternoon: Whether their view was inspired by Sharon's position or arrived at independently, the IDF personnel present (headed by Major General Giora Eiland, chief of the Operations Directorate) recommended that Ben-Eliezer accept the Tenet document without attempting to amend it.

The three-way meeting at the King David was supposed to be a forum for an official reading of the American proposal followed by reactions from the two delegations, but by that point, Tenet and his team sensed, even if they didn't already know for sure, that Israel intended to announce its acceptance of the document.

The official procedure took place the next morning at the meeting of the "kitchen cabinet." Eiland and his colleagues reported on the previous night's session at the hotel. The participants - including the chiefs of the Mossad, the Shin Bet and army intelligence, and Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof - were more or less unanimous in advocating that Israel should announce its acceptance of the American proposal.

The thinking went as follows: If a cease-fire does indeed take hold, then all the better - after all, the national interest comes first. If Arafat rejects the document or professes to accept it, but does not fulfill his part of the bargain, Israel will win more points in the court of world opinion and a more conducive political backdrop will be created for a military response to Palestinian violence.

Some who were present anticipated that Arafat would in fact accept the Tenet plan, though very reluctantly and without any genuine intention of implementing it. The decision of the "kitchen cabinet" was relayed by telephone to the cabinet ministers with brief explanations provided by Sharon's bureau chief Uri Shani and cabinet secretary Gideon Sa'ar.

There were several tense hours the next day during which Tenet appeared to be quite pessimistic. At one point, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer was handed a note while he was in the midst of giving a press briefing. After reading it, the defense minister announced in an emotional voice that the negotiations had fallen apart and that Tenet was returning to Washington. This little performance showed that, just like Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, his rival for the Labor Party chairmanship, Ben-Eliezer does not count to three before sharing dramatic information with the nation - even if that information is faulty.

In a subsequent bit of dissimulation, the defense minister was heard to explain that his announcement had helped the pressure that Tenet brought to bear on Arafat.

Sharon's readiness to accept the Tenet document was due in large part to the American administration's savvy in creating the appearance of a separation between the security stage and the political stage of the implementation process of the Mitchell Report. President Bush dispatched George Tenet and William Burns to the Middle East; the former worked on achieving the imperatives contained in the first section of the Mitchell Report by effecting a cease-fire, while the latter studied the conditions necessary for executing the political process outlined in the rest of the report.

Tenet's success in finalizing a document that hinges entirely on the stabilization of a cease-fire allowed the prime minister to claim that his call for the Mitchell Report to be implemented gradually - with the first stage being a total cease-fire - had been affirmed.

Sharon gives instructions

When the Oslo accords were signed, then chief of staff Ehud Barak famously remarked that it reminded him of Swiss cheese. The Tenet document could be likened to a lump of dough that hasn't yet been put in the oven because each of its three chefs has a different final product in mind. This state of things seems to indicate that there are misunderstandings or disputes as to the interpretation of the American plan. The extent of Arafat's ability and willingness to genuinely undertake to quiet the armed conflict is not the only thing threatening the reliability of the agreement hammered out by Tenet. The agreement contains certain definitions that could potentially generate friction.

The definition of just which terrorists the PA is obligated to arrest is vague, nor is there a clear consensus on the buffer areas that are supposed to create a security zone devoid of hostile activity between the PA areas and residential Israeli areas. Exactly what would constitute a violation of the cease-fire has not been specified, nor is it clear when, or even if, Israel would be entitled to exercise its right of hot pursuit within areas under the PA's jurisdiction.

The remedy offered by Tenet for the prevention of outbreaks of violence that might arise from differing understandings of his directives is the re-creation of the Israeli-Palestinian coordination mechanism - including Israeli-Palestinian District Coordination Offices (DCOs) - that collapsed after the start of the Intifada.

Tenet put an emphasis on rebuilding cooperation between the two sides and proposed several improvements, both organizational (stationing joint posts at trouble spots) and technical (U.S.-supplied video-conferencing systems to facilitate frequent dialogue and security cooperation). He also recommended the creation of a senior coordinating committee that would include an American representative; problems that are not resolved at the lower coordinating levels, would be brought before this security committee for evaluation.

Of course, all the protective measures embedded in the document by Tenet in order to increase the likelihood of the cease-fire enduring will be of no avail if one of the parties is intent on violating it. Moreover, the fact that the document was not signed practically gives the parties a license to evade the fulfillment of any of its various clauses.

Indeed, just hours after the truce officially went into effect, the prime minister sounded like he had no faith in Arafat or in the PA chairman's intentions of upholding the agreement. In a talk with brigade and battalion commanders in the Judea and Samaria division, Sharon urged them to stay alert and to be ready for any type of action at any time, to be prepared to surprise the Palestinians. It was the briefing of someone preparing his troops for battle, not of someone telling his soldiers to take a vacation.

Sharon's deep pessimism regarding the odds of the cease-fire taking hold was not only expressed before the IDF; political figures heard him make similar predictions along with a declaration of intentions: to prove to the world that Arafat does not keep his word and thus cannot be a partner for a political accord, and to bring about his removal from the stage so that, when the time for political negotiation does come, the Palestinians will be represented by a new leader.

Sharansky begs to differ

The Tenet plan put an end to the cabinet decision to launch a major IDF offensive against the Palestinian Authority in response to the suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium. In fact, the operation was put on hold because the prime minister opted for the diplomatic track. But it was like a bullet in a cocked gun, liable to go off at any moment. In accepting the Tenet truce proposal, which bans Israeli maneuvers in Area A, the plans for a military strike were effectively shelved.

In retrospect, some cabinet ministers have had misgivings about the decision-making process and the wisdom of the choices made. On the right, there have been claims that the cabinet reached a concrete military decision, and therefore the prime minister should have gone back to the ministers and taken a vote before ordering a postponement. Other ministers disagree: They say that the decision was phrased in a way that authorized the kitchen cabinet to choose the timing of the operation, including postponing it, if necessary.

This week, Sharon let fall a surprising remark about the circumstances surrounding this postponement: At a meeting with officers of the Ayosh division, he implied that they couldn't get their act together quickly enough. There is no doubt about it: The prime minister is dissatisfied with the functioning of the IDF. No one remembers the army being so openly and repeatedly criticized by any of his predecessors. Sharon's intentions are good, of course, but what he has not taken into account is how his words affect morale in the top echelons of the IDF, not to mention confidence in the IDF on the part of Israeli citizens.

As for the wisdom of not responding to the attack at the Dolphinarium, Minister Natan Sharansky is adamant that Israel should have acted immediately, regardless of the pleas from around the world. While it is generally agreed that Sharon's policy of restraint has produced significant gains in the diplomatic arena, the minister of housing charges that Israel is behaving like a Jewish community in the Diaspora. Rather than making its own, independent decisions, it yields to the dictates of foreign governments.

Sharansky's views are colored by the fact that most of the Dolphinarium victims were Russian immigrants. It is painful to him that their coming to Israel, supposedly to live in freedom, led them to the grave. He believes that the cease-fire initiative would have materialized even if Israel had retaliated immediately.

Statements issued this week by the Palestinian Authority on the subject of the Tenet plan have increased Sharansky's concern. Although the explanations provided by the Secretary of State left him with a different impression, Sharansky fears that the wording of the document will be used by Arafat to evade his obligations as understood by Israel. Sharansky was surprised to hear the Palestinians say that they are not obligated to round up terrorists and confiscate weapons. He warned against repeating the mistake made, in his view, by previous governments after Oslo: too much consideration for Arafat's internal problems. Sharansky maintains that Arafat is just feigning weakness, which he uses to extort concessions from Israel and win international sympathy. He says that Dennis Ross himself admitted that the United States government had made a serious blunder in allowing Arafat to avoid his commitments on the pretext that his standing among the Palestinians did not allow for it.

Sharansky is urging Sharon to adopt a different approach: If Arafat is capable of honoring his pledges, we'll talk to him. If not, better he should get out and make room for someone else. In Sharansky's opinion, Israel must not allow itself to be swayed by the argument that in order to ensure Arafat's continued reign, it must turn a blind eye to the Palestinian leader's bumbling efforts to carry out his promises. Upon hearing the Palestinian interpretation of the Tenet plan this week, Sharansky is convinced that Arafat is using the old tricks again. He wants Sharon to make things clear: Someone who has the power to organize an armed uprising against Israel cannot plead that he is too weak to rein in the extremists and show them who's boss.

Meridor slams on the brakes

Ariel Sharon's announcement that his government was expanding was a bit premature: This week, the Center party decided that it wasn't going anywhere, at least not for the time being. The prime minister's reasons for the announcement are not clear. To keep Avigdor Lieberman and Rehavam Ze'evi from leaving? To prod Dan Meridor into joining? To signal to Shimon Peres that he shouldn't even think of setting off a coalition crisis?

This sudden interest in the Center party is puzzling. When the government coalition talks were going on, the Center party was a natural candidate. Somehow, it remained on the outside, for the idiotic reason that no portfolios were left. Was it an accident? Ineptness on the part of the negotiators? Or maybe a carefully constructed plan?

In March, when Sharon presented his government, Dan Meridor had a feeling Sharon's associates didn't want to see him in the Ministry of Justice. As a result, the ministries were distributed artificially: The Ministry of Education went to Limor Livnat (rather than Meir Sheetrit), the Ministry of Justice to Meir Sheetrit and the Ministry of Internal Security to Uzi Landau.

Today, the Center party is homogeneous in its political stance and prepared to help Sharon manage the affairs of state, but it has not found the proper niche for itself. Some of its MKs (David Magen, Roni Milo) were willing to forgo their honor and join the government at any price, but Meridor slammed on the brakes. This week, the party decided to sit tight and wait for a more enticing offer.

Sharon is not personally involved in this political wheeling and dealing: His delegate in these matters is Uri Shani. Like others in Sharon's close circle, Shani is operating on the assumption that Benjamin Netanyahu is a threat to Sharon's leadership. Fear of what Netanyahu may be scheming has considerable influence on Sharon's maneuvers. It has also kept him from bringing the Center party into the Likud as a bloc, which would guarantee its leaders a place on the Likud list in the next elections. Sharon is afraid that Netanyahu might torpedo such a move, so he doesn't even want to try.

Meridor intends to wait until a respectable appointment comes his way. It is not certain that Milo and Magen can stick it out that long.

Bishara looks for trouble

After the rioting last October, the Arab sector was shocked to find that the Jewish public stopped coming to Arab towns and villages in the Triangle and the Galilee. The Jewish response was instinctive. It was not an order from above, as some leaders of Israel's Arab minority suspected. It was an expression of fear, estrangement and uncertainty.

The statements of MK Azmi Bishara in Syria, where he attended a memorial service for Hafez Assad, could have the same results. Bishara has crossed the line that defines Israeliness: He has chosen to align himself with Israel's sworn enemies, including those who deny its right of existence and those who want to see it destroyed for religious reasons. Syria and Iran are in this category, as are the leaders of the radical Palestinian resistance fronts who operate out of Damascus. Bishara has embraced views that are pan-Arab in character, to the apparent delight of the Assad family.

Bishara is an intelligent, well-spoken man, but his actions may boomerang on him: The Jewish public will see him as a threat, and disapproval of his conduct could diminish his standing in the Arab sector, too.

That is not to say that Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein's decision to order a police investigation of Bishara is a prudent one. Aside from the fact that Bishara's parliamentary immunity will probably stand him in good stead, the very idea of resorting to criminal proceedings in this case is a mistake. The use of policing methods to shut mouths is unacceptable. The experience of the past few years has shown that courts of law are not the address for dealing with charges of "incitement" and "sedition." Judicial policy in such cases is rife with inner contradictions. Better that Bishara's views be subjected to public scrutiny than dragged through the courts.

June 2001


(June 30, 2001)
In geostrategic and military terms, the unnamed U.S.-Israel-Turkish military alliance that emerged full-blown during the last decade -- of course with the Turks using the "peace process" as the excuse for such close relations between Turkey and Israel -- was one of the most important developments.

(June 29, 2001)
In a sense there is an arms race under way at this time of a different kind -- a race for whether weapons of mass destruction will be used in a serious and ongoing way should a new war break out first in the Subcontinent over Kashmir or in the Middle East over Palestine.

(June 29, 2001)
Long before what was to happen with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (remember him?), MER was informing who he really was and what to really expect. Same with regard to Shimon Peres. Expect the same cutting-edge information and analysis in the months ahead.

(June 27, 2001)
The Middle East region totters now between further repression and oppression, terrorism and war. The outcome in the short term is indeterminate of course. But the winds and directions are clear; however much camaflouged by the politicians and the usually gullible mass media.

(June 22, 2001)
One day they will probably get Osama bin-Laden, former confident of King Fahd in Saudi Arabia, former CIA asset against the once mighty Soviet Empire, now arch nemesis of the American Empire.

(June 22, 2001)
"The Battle of Algiers" left North Africa biggest country terribly bloodied and traumatized. This time it was French imperialism and the French military that did the dirty horrifying deeds.

(June 21, 2001)
Arab States, including Egypt, are arming at a growing pace. Even combined they are still no match to defeat Israel. But their detterence capabilities are growing, they might be able to seriously bloody Israel in years ahead...

(June 20, 2001)
There are many reasons the Palestinian people are suffering so terribly, worse by the year in fact, and are now endangered by the possibility of a second "nakba" (disaster).

(June 20, 2001)
Official declarations and many reports in the Israeli media indicate that the Israeli military and political leadership are aiming, eventually, at a total destruction of the Palestinian authority, and, with it, the process of Oslo, which is now dominantly considered by them a 'historical mistake'.

(June 19, 2001)
Arafat had two roles he had been assigned. That's why none other than former "terrorist" Arafat was the most frequent visitor to the White House during the years 1993 through 2000.

(June 19, 2001)
Ariel Sharon is proving what others before him, including Generals Patton and MacArthur of American legend, learned about modern warfare. There's a heavy messure of political theatrics and personal legend involved in making war, more so now than ever in this age of instant TV and the Intenet.

SHARON Coming To US Again To Coordinate War Plans
(June 19, 2001)
Sharon is coming to the States again next week. Only a firm "absolutely not" from the Americans is likely now to prevent much further brutal subjugation of the Palestinians; quite possibly the exiling again of Yasser Arafat.

(June 17, 2001)
Coordinated non-violent but serious civil disobedience -- there in the Middle East, in Europe, and in the United States -- that is what today's situation desperately calls out for.

(June 15, 2001)
Years ago the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kurt Waldheim, was brought before a mock international court through a joint effort of Home Box Office (HBO) in the USA and a major British TV network. The question before the court was whether Kurt Waldheim was possibly guilty of war crimes ...

(June 15, 2001)
"If a cease-fire does indeed take hold, then all the better... If Arafat rejects the document or professes to accept it, but does not fulfill his part of the bargain, Israel will win more points in the court of world opinion and a more conducive political backdrop will be created for a military response to Palestinian violence."

(June 14, 2001)
The Berbers in Algeria, the brutal civil war in Sudan, the Palestinians in the once Holy Land, the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, the ongoing Kashmir crisis -- all conflicts exploding throughout the greater Middle East region today in 2001, all conflicts the legacy of Western colonial policies of yesteryear and American imperial policies of today.

(June 14, 2001)
There are major historical and military reasons why Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton (representing of course huge constituencies who at the time pushed them to pursue the policies they did) pressed Yasser Arafat so hard to sign an agreement at Camp David.

(June 13, 2001)
There is no real "agreement". There is a dictate. Yasser Arafat is in no position anymore to do much other than what his American handlers tell him to do; a day of reckoning he brought on himself by so many mistakes and so much corruption over such a long time.

Another Muslim Rep Foolishly Plays To The Cameras On Behalf of the Regimes
(June 13, 2001)
A week ago outside the State Department one of the latest Muslim organization reps to grab for the cameras -- Khalid Turaani -- declared in loud tones how the time had finally come for "civil disobedience" and how he and the other leaders of the assembled Muslim "client organizations" were going to get arrested in a peaceful protest ...

(June 13, 2001)
The Hashemite Regime has always, right from the start, been in deep collusion with the Israelis and since World War II with the CIA. This latest step to close off Jordan to Palestinians -- to essentially put a seal on the jar which now contains the Palestinians ...

(June 12, 2001)
When the Director of the CIA is himself involved so extensively, goes on site half way around the world for a lengthy stay, and the situation is so critical he has to publicly acknowledge his role ...

(June 11, 2001)
Those who know Raghida Dergham know what she is, and its certainly not a truly independent journalist. She's been an opportunist for a very long time, and she's used her sexuality to climb the ladder with backing from one influential Arab diplomat or royal along the way for a long time now.

(June 10, 2001)
"A whole nation is now huddled around one tribal bonfire to lament its bitter fate, mourn its dead and ignore the dead of the other side. As usual, it views itself as the victim, turns the enemy into Satan and waits, inactive and bravely unthinking, for the calamity that is about to befall it and for which it is in no small measure to blame."

(June 10, 2001)
Normally one of the last places one would turn for truthfulness, integrity, and information would be the Saudi royal family. Currently headed by a former playboy who drank, gambled, and womanized his life away in Beirut and London -- before assuming the throne -- it is the Saudi "royal family which epitomizes the "client regime" realities that have so fractured, weakened, and prostrated the whole region once known as "the Arab world."

(June 8, 2001)
"Be assured of our prayers for you and the President and all others in the Administration as you seek to forge a fair and just policy for the two peoples and three faiths who share a common religious heritage in the land we hold as holy."

(June 7, 2001)
There are huge cultural gulfs between East and West, old world and new world. And of course the West is extraordinarily dominant these days not only it terms of financial and military might, but also in terms of cultural influence and "moral" standards.

(June 7, 2001)
"In reality the Zionist and Hashemite leaderships continue to plot how to control and repress the Palestinians in ever more crafty and ever more duplicitous ways."

(June 6, 2001)
Last year MER first carried information about the increasingly close CIA, Shinbet, and Mossad connections with Yasser Arafat's "Palestinian Authority".

(June 5, 2001)
With much press fanfare (they just love to play to the cameras) leaders of half a dozen Muslim American groups held a press conference gathering across from the State Department today.

(June 4, 2001)
Despite the lull, there are many ominous signs of impending major attacks against the occupied Palestinians about to take place; and there is a real possibility of regional war.

(June 4, 2001)
When the American Secretary of State cancels long-planned foreign travel and publicly warns of the "abyss" from which "there may no return" you can bet the situation behind-the-scenes is far more dangerous and explosive than is publicly realized.

(June 3, 2001)
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor, reports on Israel's growing mood for full-scale hostilities in the aftermath of 17 deaths in a nightclub suicide bomb attack

(June 2, 2001)
"Americans should not travel to Gaza at the present time and those who live there should depart to a safer location when they can do so." U.S. Embassy, Israel

(June 2, 2001)
With the days of Yasser Arafat maybe coming to an end one way or another, with Feisal Husseini passed from the scene, with the other Palestinian tough guys bottled up in Gaza, the frontrunner strong man to "control" the Palestinian people throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem appears to be Jibril Rajoub.

(June 2, 2001)
Yasser Arafat was hired, courted, and well-paid to control his own people and lead them, however much they tried to resist, to the Apartheid-style arrangement the Israelis always had in mind with the so-called "Oslo Peace Process".

(June 1, 2001)
For a long time now we have been desperately warning about what the true Israeli intentions are. We have also been warning that the Palestinians are not at all prepared for these eventualities, neither with the terrible leadership provided by the "Palestinian Authority" nor for the world-wide information and public relations battle that accompanies all major developments in our world these days.

© 2004 Mid-East Realities, All rights reserved